Food, like real estate, is all about location. There's no better way to get to the heart of a place than to discover its hometown dishes — and just about every place also has unique ethnic enclaves where a seat at a table is like a round-the-world airplane ticket.
You can follow your fork in the road almost anywhere, but these are some of my favorite culinary itineraries: six easily accessible, geographically diverse, and consistently delicious destinations.
Main course: Waves of 20th- and 21st-century immigrants have made Portland a great, sprawling global eatery. The city is dotted with more than 600 food carts (foodcartsportland.com) offering international delicacies, often prepared with the same devotion to fresh local ingredients that you'll find at Portland's finer restaurants. Think chopped grilled chicken from Guam, Korean fried chicken, Bora Bora chicken with a searing hot sauce, or Ziba's Bosnian cheese-and-spinach-stuffed pita.
Quick bites: The Meadow — tiny and elegant — has more than 100 varieties of gourmet finishing salts, chocolates from local chocolatiers, wines, and artisanal cocktail bitters.
Farther afield: Drive east to farm stands, fruit orchards, and berry patches on the "Fruit Loop," in the Hood River Valley.
Restaurant Week: March 2012. Visit the Restaurant Week Portland website.